On a cool morning in March, 2013, I walked a girl named Lori, whom I was crazy about, to the McKinley Beach Pier in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
After a few moments of talking about our hopes and dreams for the future, I asked her to be my girlfriend by proposing to her with a ring pop.
Five years later, we took a trip back to Milwaukee to celebrate our anniversary and toured the significant places and moments of the beginning of our relationship.
Our first stop was to our pier at McKinley Beach. I cleverly distracted Lori with an anniversary gift, only to get down on one knee and ask her to marry me, this time with a diamond ring. I presented the ring in a 3D-printed iris ring box. I used a DIY vapor chamber to smooth the surface and painted her favorite color, mint green.
Disappointed with the few options for men’s wedding bands, I didn’t feel connected with a design, so I decided to make my own with 3D printing, one I could create a story around but not just a complex design.
I decided to take our pier into the design. Viewing the pier from above, I wrapped a simple design around most of the wedding band and did an extruded cut into the band of a ring pop. I designed the ring using SolidWorks in a simple design utilizing a revolving array. In concept, I only created 3 of the sections, then completed the ring with a revolving pattern.
Once the design was complete, I printed a sample on an Ultimaker to get an idea of the details and fit on my finger. Many of the details were too small, so I adjusted them accordingly. My next revision, I printed on CBAM because, I could. I wore this version for a week and was comfortable with the fit and look.
I looked at AM metal options from big service bureaus (3D Hubs, protolabs, xometry, etc.), which were underwhelming. As another option, I took the metal machine manufacturers from the 2020 AMFG infographic (shown below) and looked into every company. I looked into the companies tolerances, material selection, design guidelines, and if they took files to quote. This led me to digital metal (binder jetting) and their US service bureau Azoth. I printed a few iterations in 316L stainless steel with varying post-processing and now have a beautiful wedding band that I always have a great story behind. As a side note, I’m frequently asked why I didn’t look at a 3D printed investment cast. I want my ring to be genuinely 100% 3D printed, and the investment cast is 3D printing assisting the casting process.